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11 Dec 2011

The World's First Laptop

By Harvey McEwan

The development of laptops is largely defined by the increasing size of the screen versus the decreasing size of everything else. The ultra thin laptops on offer today are a far cry from the early models, whose substantial weight and volume dwarfed the (what now seems ridiculously small) screen.

Historians generally agree that the first instance of a portable computer came in 1981 with the introduction of the Osborne 1. However, others argue that design guru Bill Moggridge was the true pioneer in 1979, with his invention developed for GriD Systems Corporation. The GriD Compass computer had a price tag of �4,900 in 1982, and was available with its own operating system - GriD OS.

Moggridge was recently honoured for a lifetime of achievements in design by the Duke of Edinburgh. The British designer, currently director of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, was awarded the Prince Philip Designers Prize at the ceremony in November.

The inventor of the Osborne 1 was Adam Osborne, a former book publisher who started his computer company Osborne Computer Corporation just one year before the release of the laptop launch.

The computer proved to be a huge success, and was shipping over 10,000 units each month, with the Osborne Computer Corps experiencing its first $1million month in September 1981. However, the success was short-lived, and the company filed for bankruptcy in 1983.

At the time, the laptop cost around $1795, not bad for a laptop which came with a protective casing, carrying handle, battery pack and 2 massive floppy disc drives.

The computer was soon surpassed by other models which appeared, such as the Epson HX-20, and the TRS-80 Model 100 developed by Microsoft. The 5 inch screen of the Osborne 1 was soon overtaken by the LCD display of both the Epson HX-20 and the Microsoft laptop.

Further down the line, the first Apple Macintosh Portable was released, the model which later developed in to the Powerbook. It is amazing how far we have come in the space of 30 years in terms of computer technology.

It is now unthinkable that we as a society could get any use out of such primitive machines in comparison with today's offerings, not only within the computer itself, but within the industry. For example search engines would not exist as they do today, online advertising would be non-existent. Things such as   rel=nofollow []paid search and SEO would never have developed as sectors within the internet industry.

Harvey McEwan writes to offer information and advice on a variety of areas, from technology to holiday destinations. Read through Harvey's other articles []here to find out more.

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